Visa rebate incentive to alleviate skills shortage

Visa

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CMEWA) has welcomed the announcement of visa incentives to help address current workforce shortages caused by COVID‑19.

According to the Australian Government, Working Holiday Maker visa holders who are currently offshore and come to Australia during the next 12 weeks will be eligible for a refund of their Visa Application Charge.

Any Student visa holder who is currently offshore and comes to Australia over the next eight weeks will also be eligible for a refund.

CMEWA chief executive Paul Everingham said international entrants are likely to react positively to initiatives like the visa rebate, which will remove one of the potential barriers associated with travelling to Australia.

“The backpackers among them will provide an important labour source for the agricultural, retail and hospitality sectors in particular, which may in turn free up other workers to pursue opportunities in mining,” Everingham said.

“Many of the students, meanwhile, will be studying subjects that will equip them with knowledge and skills that will very much be required by our sector, both in the short and longer terms.

“CME and its member companies are very much committed to helping prepare the mining and resources sector workforce of the future, and students benefiting from this rebate will be part of that.”

The current Visa Application Charge for a student is $630 and $495 for a Working Holiday Maker.

Everingham said the rebate would provide an important incentive amid a skills squeeze that has impacted many industries across the country.

“As research commissioned by CME last year outlined, WA’s mining and resources sector could face a shortfall of 40,000 workers within two years if the situation is left unaddressed,” Everingham said.

“The reopening of borders into WA on February 5 will be a very important first step towards alleviating some of these skills pressures, providing access to labour pools interstate and overseas that industry has traditionally been able to call on in times of need.”

Due to current workforce shortages, the Australian Government is removing the limit on Student visa holders’ working hours across all sectors of the economy.

This measure takes effect immediately for all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals who start a job prior to their course commencement, and will be reviewed in April 2022.

In addition, effective immediately and until the end of 2022, there will be no limit on the length of time Working Holiday Makers can work for the same employer.

There are currently around 150,000 Student and 23,500 Working Holiday Maker visa holders offshore.

All international arrivals must meet Australia’s entry requirements including in relation to vaccination.

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